Corticosteroids such as cortisone have represented worldwide relief for people with chronic autoimmune diseases , although their usefulness goes beyond that, as we will explain in the following article.

In this sense, we will talk in detail about cortisone , describing its mechanisms of action, when it is used and its most frequent contraindications.

What is cortisone?

Corticosteroids such as cortisone, prednisone and cortisol are hormones with anti-inflammatory, anti-immune and analgesic properties . In this sense, cortisone is the inactive form of cortisol, that is, it needs to be metabolized to fulfill its functions.

Note: Cortisone comes in presentations of 5, 10 and 20 mg tablets , for oral administration. It also comes in presentations for intramuscular, intravenous, and intra-articular injections, as well as topical skin.

What is cortisone used for?

Corticosteroids were introduced to the market more than 50 years ago, with the purpose of relieving pain caused by chronic diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Next, we will mention other of its uses:

1. Inflammation and pain

Cortisone relieves pain and swelling in the affected area, because it inhibits the production of proteins responsible for degrading tissue integrity , proinflammatory cytokines, and stimulates the production of lipocortin, responsible for blocking the synthesis of prostaglandins. (1)

2. Allergic reactions

Hypersensitivity reactions (allergies) are caused by the release of histamine and proinflammatory cytokines , accompanied by pain and edema (swelling).

In this sense, asthma is a clear example. Therefore, inhaled corticosteroids such as cortisone decrease the inflammatory response of the bronchi . Other examples include skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, postherpetic dermatitis, and pemphigus.

3. Autoimmune diseases and cancer

At present, the prevalence of chronic diseases that are difficult to treat and very painful has increased. Therefore, the use of corticosteroid drugs such as cortisone has also done so, to reduce pain and fatigue in diseases such as fibromyalgia or in cancer patients.

Important: Cortisone decreases the perception of pain by reducing the release of nociceptive (pain-producing) substances such as somatostatin or substance P. (2)

4. Adrenal Insufficiency Conditions

Addison’s disease is a pathology of the adrenal glands, caused by insufficient production of steroid hormones , either glucocorticoids or mineralocorticoids.

You should know: The patient may present general malaise, muscle weakness and gastrointestinal discomfort. Treatment consists of hormone replacement therapy , that is, the use of drugs such as cortisone and/or fludrocortisone .

cortisone side effects

Corticosteroids, such as cortisone, produce a variety of side effects throughout the body . Next, we will mention the most common:

  • Cushing’s syndrome. It is produced by the chronic use (greater than 3 weeks) of corticosteroids, leading to an inhibition of the adrenal gland. (3)
  • Electrolyte changes (for example, high potassium levels in the blood).
  • Low blood sugar levels.
  • Hyperpigmentation of the skin and swelling of the face (full moon facies).
  • Heart problems , such as tachycardia.

Important: The correct doses in therapeutic strategies by the treating physician are essential to avoid the rebound effect (Cushing’s syndrome) when the drugs are discontinued. (4)

contraindications of cortisone

Despite its great utility, treatment with corticosteroids such as cortisone should not be adhered to in certain patients, since it increases the risk of adverse effects or possible superinfections . Next, we will mention the most common contraindications:

  • Known hypersensitivity to the drug and its equivalents.
  • Systemic fungal infections .
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Joint infection.

You should know: You must inform the doctor about the health conditions that are suffered , thus avoiding unwanted reactions and to receive more information about therapeutic alternatives.

Key Findings

  • Cortisone is a corticosteroid with anti-inflammatory, anti-immune and analgesic properties .
  • Cortisone comes as 5, 10, and 20 mg tablets , taken by mouth. As well as presentations for parenteral injections and creams for topical use.
  • The main adverse effect of cortisone is Cushing’s syndrome , although electrolyte, cardiac, and skin disturbances may also be present.
  • Cortisone is contraindicated in patients with hypersensitivity , glaucoma, and diabetes mellitus.

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